Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ancient Egyptian Adoption

     Several years ago I did some posts (between Feb. 24, 2009 and Mar. 25, 2009) on Mesopotamian adoption and specifically how it seemed to sometimes be used as a way to ensure the transfer of property. An adult would pay a fee to be adopted and the adopters would agree to leave certain property to that person after their deaths.

     I recently came across an article by Emily Teeter that indicates that the Egyptians may have done something similar. In an article entitled "Celibacy and Adoption Among God's Wives of Amun and Singers in the Temple of Amun: a Re-examination of the Evidence", Dr. Teeter took a look at the long-standing theory that the God's Wives of Amun would adopt their successors as they were not (it is believed) permitted to have sex. As part of criticism this theory the author provides some interesting information about ancient Egyptian adoption. She mentions an 18th Dynasty papyrus that details the adoption of a woman by her husband as a way of making sure that she received her inheritance over other members of the family. The same woman later adopted some servant children to be her heirs.

     This is an interesting way of ensuring the transfer of a person's effects after their death, but Dr. Teeter does feel that the idea that the God's Wives of Amun were celibate and adopted girls in order to transfer their office to them is not supported by the available evidence.

Monday, October 24, 2016

One Last Khorsabad Post

     Ok, so I said I was done with Khorsabad posts, but I have neglected a few things about the site. So here goes one last post...

     Khorsabad was the site of the first large excavation of an archaeological site in the Middle East. Bottta began digging there in 1843 (see my previous post for photos of some of the objects he found). He was followed by Victor Place and, later on, the Oriental Institute.

     Many objects have been found by archaeologists aside from the large reliefs I have shown in previous posts. A foundation deposit that contained a description of the city's founding was found, as were several copies of the text on tablets made of copper, lead, silver and limestone. There were temples to the sun, moon and god of writing (Nabu) as well as a four story ziggurat. And last, but definitely not least, the Oriental Institute found the so-called "Khorsabad King-List", which named all of the Assyrian Kings from early times until Sargon along with the length of their reigns.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wrapping up Khorsabad

Fig. 1 - Sargon and a Courtier
     I just want to wrap up the series of posts I have been doing about the Assyrian capital Khorsabad by mentioning that not all of the objects went to the Oriental Institute in Chicago. The Louvre Museum has several winged bulls and a number of reliefs from Sargon's city and has displayed them quite beautifully in their "Assyrian Court". I have posted on these objects before (October 7, 2012), but I am showing them again to close out this topic.

Fig. 2 - Assyrian courtier from Khorsababd 
     One large wall relief shows Sargon and an Assyrian courtier (Figure 1). I find their beards fascinating for some odd reason or another (Figures 2 and 3). Notice how they are curled at the top of the beard from the sideburns down to the chin. From that point on the hair alternates in different types of curls and braids. Last but not least, notice the large bulge of hair at the base of the neck and how the hair above it is braided until we lose site of it under the figures head dresses.

Fig. 3 - Sargon II from Khorsabad
Sargon (Figure 3) also were one of the Assyrian "wristwatches" on his right wrist. Both men wear large earrings.

Fig. 4 - Logs Being Taken from Byblos
     Figure 4 is a completely different type of carving. It shows logs being taken from Byblos (in what is now Lebanon). Wood from this area was highly prized by both the Egyptians and the Assyrians. This scene shows logs being floated (along a river I assume). Some of the logs are being towed by a boat. All of this wood would have been taken to Khorsabad as tribute from Byblos and used in the construction of the city.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mesopotamian Glazed Bricks

Fig. 1 - Khorsabad glazed mud bricks, now in the Oriental Institute
     Of course not all buildings in Khorsabad were lined with reliefs carved on large stone slabs, and even the ones that were were still primarily built using baked mud bricks. Figure 1 shows some glazed mud bricks from the temple of the god Sin (the moon god, Nanna in Sumerian) at Khorsabad. The bricks were covered in a decorative glaze and used to embellish the exterior of major buildings.

Fig. 2 - Glazed brick lion from Babylon (now in Oriental Institute)
     The decoration in figure 1 is hard to see, so I have also included an example that is much easier to see, and much more famous, the lion which was made from glazed mud bricks (figure 2) and used to decorate the processional way in front of the Ishtar Gate in Babylon (see figure 3 for a reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate).

     These examples of glazed bricks are from the Oriental Institute in Chicago. A full reconstruction of the Ishtar gate itself can be seen at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

     The gate fronted on a processional way would have seen statues of Babylon's major deities paraded as a part of the new year celebrations. The walls of the processional way were also decorated with bulls, dragons and flowers.

Fig. 3 - reconstruction of Ishtar gate (in Oriental Institute)